Year 2 Fashion Design Live Project With Penguin Ventures

In collaboration with Penguin Ventures, Year 2 Fashion Design students were tasked with creating an ethically considered garment and four scarves inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s exquisite Flower Fairy illustrations. The students delivered a variety of looks that went beyond the expected. 

In this live industry project students presented their ideas to representatives from Penguin Ventures. Sara Glenn, Commercial Curator for Penguin Ventures and Naomi Godden (who is also a knitwear alumnus of WSA) selected pieces to be displayed alongside a large exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire. 

The exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey includes original Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy illustrations and Vin Burnham costumes. The whole site has been turned into a Flower Fairy encapsulation. “We wanted to create something where we were giving something back and with sustainability and there is a real interest in fashion in our team. This seemed like a perfect project.” 

Sara Glenn had this to say about the student’s work: 

“The students have been so imaginative and they’ve really thought outside of the box. I can’t wait for this to be added to the display, it’s going to add a different dynamic to what is already there and open people’s eyes to what you can really do with a subject matter and take it on to use it for fashion and design.”

The sustainability aspect shone through the students use of natural dyes and cellulose fibre based fabrics. The focus on ethical thinking even inspired the stories the students created for the Flower Fairies, such as the Flower Fairy visiting the melting ice caps or saving animals. 

There were many interesting concepts for the Flower Fairies. There was an interpretation of the Rose Bay Willow Flower Fairy as a florist. Another example is the Rosehip Flower Fairy as a social media influencer, in which Tina Tian painted her scarves as posts from her Flower Fairy’s Instagram page.

“She enjoys her life and loves to share her life with her followers and the four pictures are her having her afternoon tea in different places like cafes or parks or at home. My garment is inspired by my concept of Wonderland, which is a flower field. The ruffles are to create the flower shape. The jacket is inspired by Marc Chegall and has a man and a woman’s face in the garment.”  

Some of the stories went beyond a profession for the modern-day Flower Fairy as some aspects translated very well today as they did back in the 1920s as shown in Sarah Shurmer’s garment. 

 “The Candytuft Flower Fairy was having an identity crisis and I can relate. So, the concept I created was based around identity and to symbolize that I had used fingerprints in the design.” 

Walter Wu reimagined the Dogwood Flower Fairy as a memory collector. Creating an intricate jumpsuit that utilized woven strips of recycled newspaper as a key textile. He also experimented with using food labels as a textile option. 

“Nobody remembers yesterday’s newspaper, so I wanted to keep it and use it in the garment. The inspiration is from vintage menswear/workwear. You can see the pattern has a curve which can make the worker move easily.” 

Caroline Streat created a blazer inspired by the Robin Pin Cushion Flower Fairy who is described as a ball of flame. Caroline’s interpretation of the Flower Fairy decided to go protesting after a trip to Borneo and seeing the scale deforestation.

“I enjoyed using the natural dyeing processes so I used various things such as turmeric to dye my garment. I visited an exhibition in London ‘Invisible Men’ I started looking at Vivienne Westwood and her prints and current climate change elements.  I used laser etching as a sustainable method of printing onto textiles.”

The work is now on display at Mottisfont Abbey until the 05 January 2020. For more information visit the Mottisfont Abbey website.

Written by Hilary Ip, Year 3 Fashion Marketing with Management